An Introduction to Anthropology

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Introduces cultural anthropology and some examples of topics.

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  • An Introduction to Anthropology

    1. 1. An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology On Strange Customs--Strange to Us, That Is
    2. 2. What do Anthropologists Do? <ul><li>Typical Stereotype: People wearing a pith helmet in khaki out to study exotic cultures (upper right) </li></ul><ul><li>Of course, the lower cartoon by Gary Larson describes the more likely stereotype. . . (lower right) </li></ul><ul><li>The caption: “Anthropologists! Anthropologists!” </li></ul>
    3. 3. Do Anthropologist Wear Beards? <ul><li>Stereotypically, male anthropologists wear beards </li></ul><ul><li>I didn’t—but in Guatemala back in 1969-70, if you looked like Fidel Castro [upper right], they shot first and didn’t bother to ask questions later. “No quarter for comunistas , you see.” </li></ul><ul><li>In 1970, Carlos Arana Osorio, the so-called Butcher of Zacapa, was elected president (lower right; in the second photo, that’s him to the right, consulting with U.S. military advisors in Zacapa). </li></ul><ul><li>So you can guess I was squeaky clean when it came to shaving, except for a mustache! </li></ul>
    4. 4. Have you ever wondered why. . . <ul><li>Some cultures are warlike like these Vanuatu tribesmen. (Top photo)? </li></ul><ul><li>Some tribes have guests over for dinner—and the guests are the dinner? </li></ul><ul><li>Of course, we’re much more civilized that that, aren’t we? </li></ul><ul><li>Look how our weapons have improved over spears and arrows! </li></ul><ul><li>Why, we even had a Miss Atomic Bomb to celebrate our high technology! </li></ul><ul><li>(Have you wondered about our own culture?) </li></ul>
    5. 5. Hasn’t It ever occurred to you. . . <ul><li>Why polygamy is practiced? </li></ul><ul><li>(You were maybe expecting two women married to one man?) </li></ul><ul><li>Guess what! The upper photo does portrays polygamy of a kind. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s called polyandry —one woman married to two men </li></ul><ul><li>So does the lower photo of this ethnic Tibetan coup—I mean trio </li></ul>
    6. 6. Haven’t these things piqued your curiosity. . . <ul><li>How it is that people practice sorcery (above) </li></ul><ul><li>And actually believe all that stuff? </li></ul><ul><li>Or how half a million would go halfway around the world </li></ul><ul><li>For the sake of a rock called the Kabala Stone? </li></ul>
    7. 7. Or how about these. . . <ul><li>Why is it that, to some peoples, this witchetty grub is like a steak dinner? </li></ul><ul><li>Or why is it that, instead of using pigskin for football games, </li></ul><ul><li>These Afghan horsemen prefer to use a calf’s carcass for their version of polo? </li></ul>
    8. 8. Human Diversity: A Fact of Life Despite our Funny Ideas <ul><li>We have funny notions about “primitive” cultures (cartoon) </li></ul><ul><li>Caption: “Let’s contact that professor who wanted to study us </li></ul><ul><li>And eat the students he sends to do the research” </li></ul><ul><li>But many cultures are peaceable (such as this Semai man of Malaysia) </li></ul><ul><li>They abhor war and avoid violent behavior, suppress anger </li></ul><ul><li>Even Semai children avoid games that are competitive </li></ul>
    9. 9. On Human Diversity: Making a Living <ul><li>Some cultures hunt and gather, such as the !Kung women bringing in edible roots (upper photo) </li></ul><ul><li>Our ancestors did the same for up to 200,000 years ago </li></ul><ul><li>Other peoples farm, such as these Iroquois women (lower drawing) </li></ul><ul><li>Still others may raise only cattle, horses, or other large animals </li></ul><ul><li>Nowadays most of us do nonfarm work full time (sound familiar?) </li></ul>
    10. 10. On Human Diversity: Marriage <ul><li>Take marriage: </li></ul><ul><li>Some cultures are monogamous—like ours </li></ul><ul><li>Serial monogamy is one subtype—as suggested in this cartoon </li></ul><ul><li>Q: Why are men attracted to women who smoke? </li></ul><ul><li>A: “Serial monogamy: when she dies, I go to the next one” </li></ul><ul><li>Others don’t wait—they practice polygyny, as in this Nigerian household </li></ul><ul><li>You’ve already seen that others practice polyandry (in Tibet) </li></ul>
    11. 11. On Human Diversity: Economics <ul><li>Most economies are built on gift exchange called reciprocity </li></ul><ul><li>Among the !Kung (above), the unlucky hunter could still count on meat </li></ul><ul><li>He would return the favor when he bagged an animal </li></ul><ul><li>Other societies rely on open air markets </li></ul><ul><li>Such as this one in Chichicastenango, Guatemala </li></ul>
    12. 12. On Human Diversity: Politics, Law, and War <ul><li>Most non-Western societies manage social control without government </li></ul><ul><li>Above: Nuer leopard skin chief , who mediates disputes, usually over cattle </li></ul><ul><li>But he cannot force parties to agree nor can he enforce existing agreement </li></ul><ul><li>Often, mediation fails leading to warfare (Dani of Western New Guinea, below, prepare for battle) </li></ul><ul><li>Revenge is often obligatory out of fear of vengeful spirits </li></ul>
    13. 13. On Human Diversity: The Supernatural <ul><li>Different peoples perceive the unseen world in different ways </li></ul><ul><li>Islam and Christianity have the same prophets: Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus Christ </li></ul><ul><li>Both call for the triumph of good over evil </li></ul><ul><li>Hindu/Buddhist Balinese see the concepts as forces cancelling each other out </li></ul><ul><li>Gods are the forces of creation </li></ul><ul><li>Demons (right) are the forces of decay and destruction </li></ul><ul><li>Human role: to keep the forces in balance or else the world will come to an end </li></ul>
    14. 14. What Anthropologists Do <ul><li>Explaining diversity and similarities is the job of anthropologists </li></ul><ul><li>Why do some peoples have one spouse while others have many? </li></ul><ul><li>Why do some cultures have governments and their codified laws while others manage without them? </li></ul><ul><li>Why do some peoples share their resources while others do not? </li></ul><ul><li>These are all questions that anthropologists address . </li></ul>
    15. 15. Welcome to Cultural Anthropology <ul><li>This term, you will be looking at the different cultures around the world </li></ul><ul><li>You will find out why some marriages are arranged </li></ul><ul><li>And make perfect sense to East Indian families </li></ul><ul><li>Even if this woman and man may never have met each other before. . . </li></ul>
    16. 16. So What is Anthropology? <ul><li>Glad you asked! </li></ul><ul><li>Let’s look at the etymology. . . </li></ul><ul><li>“ Anthropology” is derived from two Greek terms: </li></ul><ul><li>Anthropos: “man” or by extension “human” </li></ul><ul><li>Logos: “study of” or “science of” </li></ul><ul><li>But any field from medicine to law to history is about humans </li></ul><ul><li>So we have to narrow the term down a bit </li></ul>
    17. 17. Anthropology: Study of Culture <ul><li>We might define anthropology as the holistic and comparative study of humankind and its cultures </li></ul><ul><li>Anthropologists observe people’s behavior of a culture in the field (As in Quintana Roo, SE Mexico) </li></ul><ul><li>Or reconstruct their behavior in archeological sites (As at this Inca site near Machu Picchu, Peru) </li></ul><ul><li>Or study people’s language that carries their culture </li></ul><ul><li>Or study their biological capacity for culture. . . </li></ul><ul><li>But what is culture? That is up next. </li></ul>

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